Betsy Towns

Director, Higher Education Design Studio

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Betsy Towns is an artist, designer, art historian, and educator. She also serves as Associate Professor of Art History in the Division of Liberal Arts at UNCSA, and founding director of CDI’s Higher Ed Design Studio. 

A lifelong interdisciplinary educator, Towns has taught and administered programs for students from early childhood to graduate in a wide variety of traditional and experimental learning settings. As an artist, she creates works for galleries and has designed and built large-scale grant-funded interpretive public art installations in ceramic relief and directed design of immersive education experiences. Design-build projects include private residences and gardens, including a current project creating a tiny house cluster in Western North Carolina.

Her experience in project direction as a designer and educator, her leadership and systems design for positive change at UNCSA, and her capacity to bridge the disciplines emerging as the focal points of design research at CDI make her a strong fit to lead the Center in Transition.

Towns said, “In addition to facilitating the robust existing programs in scientific communication and interdisciplinary learning, the CDI galvanizes emerging programs in community-based design, interdisciplinary curriculum design, and research at the intersection of the arts and sciences.”

Towns serves CCC Board Member and WSFC Public Art Commissioner, leading the City-Wide Portrait Committee and serving on the MLK Corridor Committee. She’s past chair of UNCSA Faculty Council, and serves on Strategic and Master Planning committees at UNCSA.

Towns received a Ph.D. and M.A. in Art History and a B.A. in English/Studio Art from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was a Morehead Scholar and a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She also received an Undergraduate Teaching Award, a Luce Fellowship, and a Joseph Pogue Fellowship. In 2010, she received a UNCSA Excellence in Teaching Award.